Economic Benefits for the Wellington Region

A successful city is one that works well for its citizens, businesses and visitors. That means having excellent public transport as the preferred means of getting into and across the central city. For the Wellington region, using light rail in the tram-train mode is the way to provide an integrated high quality public transport network.

Cities and regions that have adopted light rail have gained economic benefits. Typically, the international experience has been that following the introduction of light rail there was a significant positive economic impact on jobs and business revenues. In addition, efficient public transportation is a recognised method of improving productivity and enhancing access to employment opportunities.

Modern light rail systems now operate in hundreds of cities worldwide and have generally proved to be a catalyst for improving local public transport networks. Light rail has proven that it can encourage development growth in areas better serviced by public transport and compliment land use and tourism policies.

For this reason, internationally, it is often the business community that is at the forefront of encouraging the adoption of light rail. Overseas experience indicates that properties that benefit from improved access because of proximity to a light rail system increase in value.

Positive benefit-cost ratio to adopting Light Rail

The major impediment to adopting light rail is the initial capital investment but  if Wellington were to adopt light rail there would be a positive benefit–cost ratio. The principal economic returns from adopting light rail would be:

  • Reduced congestions costs. Road congestion now imposes huge costs. These costs are faced by motorists directly but also by taxpayers who bear the cost of funding ever more roading infrastructure.  By relieving congestion pressures and eliminating the need for roading projects, such as the Basin Reserve Flyover, light rail would effectively fund itself!
  • Maximising the effectiveness of the existing rail network. Tram-trains would allow the full potential of the investment already made in the suburban rail network to be realised. This investment amounts to many hundreds of millions of dollars. The electrification and double tracking to Waikanae and the new Matangi Units would be even more valuable if greater rail use were encouraged by extending the reach of the rail network through tram-trains.
  • Reduced numbers of buses. Typically, a light rail is the equivalent of 4-5 buses